You may have heard about the unprecedented restrictions on protest for the G8 that Emanuel rushed through the City Council – the “sit down and shut up ordinances,” Occupy Chicago calls them – granting the mayor the power to deploy surveillance cameras across the city without approval or oversight, and quadrupling, to $200, the fine for rallying without a permit (and making said permit almost impossible to obtain). But did you hear about the nearly $200,000 contract for new full-face police shields – Emanuel’s first deployment of his new power to purchase goods and services for the summit without City Council approval or competitive bidding? How about the solicitation of bids for medieval joust-style riot armor for police horses, or the provisions to deputize to the Chicago police “other law enforcement agencies as determined by the superintendent of police necessary for the fulfillment of law enforcement functions” – a possible wedge for the introduction of private security firms like Xe Services (now called Academi), the former Blackwater.
The cops sure do love their new masks. Which has long-memoried Chicago lefties freaking out. “People have been known to throw bags of urine, human feces, and also inflammatories at officers,” claims Mike Shields, the aptly named president of the Chicago police union, and the old shields “allow for fluids to drip through.” In 1968, the city justified the beating of peaceful protesters at the Democratic National Convention with just such piss-and-shit claims, which were almost certainly urban legends, according to Chicago investigative journalist Lewis Z. Koch, who produced all the street footage at the convention for NBC news in 1968. Koch also finds contemporary parallels in the games the city played then with protesters’ requests for permits to march near the action. People who want to protest will protest anyway, permits or not – that’s what happened in 1968 – but by complicating the permitting process the city ensures that the protesters who show up will be mainly the most committed extremists, raising the likelihood of violent confrontations. Perhaps that’s why Obama pulled the plug: He grasped that Mayor Emanuel’s macho bullshit made an apocalyptic smackdown during “Occupy Spring” almost inevitable.
And so, no G8 summit for Chicago. And yet, whadya know, the restrictive ordinances are still in place, with no hint that they’ll go away – leading Bernard Harcourt in the Guardian to wonder whether this wasn’t the point all along: “It’s almost as if Rahm Emanuel was lifting a page from Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine,” Harcourt writes. “In record time, Emanuel successfully exploited the fact that Chicago will host the upcoming G8 and NATO summit meetings to increase his police powers and extend police surveillance, to outsource city services and privatize financial gains, and to make permanent new limitations on political dissent…very rapidly and without time for dissent.” Or, as Rahm himself said, in a different context (the economic meltdown that Obama got landed with in 2009), “You never want a serious crisis go to waste.” Indeed.
But this is the part that jumped out at me:
On February 23, for instance, the story that Emanuel was closing seventeen “underperforming” school dropped. Rev. Jesse Jackson took the occasion to point out that of the 160 CPS schools without libraries and 140 of them were south of North Avenue – where the black people live: “That’s apartheid,” he said.
You’re goddamned right it is. But who’s going to point it out except a bunch of hippies on the intertubes?